Known as a smish, kemesa or flesh-bag in the convict 'flash' slang language, this convict uniform shirt has been worn, torn, stained and patched. Discovered in 1979 under one of the stairtreads leading to Level 3 of Hyde Park Barracks, it is a rare survivor of the tens of thousands of shirts that were issued to convicts in the penal era. Manufactured from a plain weave unbleached cotton, with blue weft stripes of alternating width, it has a red Board of Ordnance and broad arrow stamp - ‘BO/↑’ - at lower left front, confirming its issue by the Board of Ordnance, and ownership by the government.
As with most other movable items at the Barracks, convict shirts were traded on the black market. The authorities often discovered convicts stealing shirts, smuggling shirts out of the Barracks by wearing doubles, or throwing them over the walls to others waiting on the other side.